Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

To Reduce Food Waste, Government Must Get Out of the Way

Efforts to combat the problem continue to bump up against idiotic and outrageous laws.

Trashcc/Public DomainWaste may soon meet its match. No, not government waste. That's still fashionable.

Rather, I'm talking about food waste, which the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines as "food that completes the food supply chain up to a final product, of good quality and fit for consumption, but still does not get consumed because it is discarded, whether or not after it is left to spoil."

The issue of food waste, which was barely on the radar of most journalists, policymakers, and eaters only a decade or so ago, has become a globally recognized problem. Forbes, for example, declared "zero-waste markets" a key element of 2017's top food trends.

The data on food waste, which I discuss at length in my recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, are stark. Americans waste nearly 40 percent of all food, or 133 billion pounds each year. Forty million tons of that food waste ends up in our landfills annually. Put in economic terms, Americans waste $165 billion worth of food every year, or ten percent of the money we spend on food.

But the impact of food waste isn't merely economic.

"Consider, for example, the water, land, pesticides, fuel, and labor that were used to produce and dispose of food that wasn't eaten," I wrote earlier this year. "The uneaten food typically ends up belching methane—a potent greenhouse gas—in fields or landfills. Food that goes to waste also can't be used to combat hunger."

In response to this data, local, state, national, and international efforts to combat food waste have exploded recently. In 2015, for example, the USDA and EPA pledged to halve domestic food waste by 2030. And a new Kentucky law enhances protections for those who donate food that would otherwise go to waste.

Corporate and nonprofit efforts to fight food waste are also growing. For example, some food companies are using food—including some that might have gone to waste—to create food packaging. And scientists have developed genetically modified apples that don't brown immediately after they're sliced, which makes them less likely to go to waste.

A new report released this month by Harvard Law School's Food Law & Policy Clinic, Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2018 Farm Bill, proposes—as its title suggests—several ways that Congress can help reduce food waste. Among the report's suggestions is that Congress authorize a study to look at ways that USDA produce-grading rules promote food waste.

As the recommendations indicates, law and regulations are a key ingredient in perpetuating our food-waste mess.

"[H]idden behind many of these government campaigns to reduce food waste is the frequent cause of that food waste: other government regulations," I wrote last year. "Much of our wasted food isn't due to the excesses or carelessness of individuals and food companies. Rather, it's often caused by idiotic and outrageous rules that force us to waste food."

In Oakland, in an example I discuss in Biting the Hands that Feed Us, the city signed a waste contract that effectively forced restaurants that had been composting their food waste voluntarily to throw it away instead.

A more recent—and even more outrageous—example of rules run amok comes from England. There, the founder of a charity that collects fruits and vegetables and other foods that are approaching their use-by dates and sells them at pay-what-you-can prices faces up to two months in prison and a steep fine for storing food past its expiration date.

Adam Smith, the aptly named benevolent founder of the Real Junk Food Project, apparently ran afoul of the country's Police and Criminal Evidence Act and its Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations.

Smith says the charity has fed over a million people without hearing any complaints of foodborne illness. The average food inspectors flagged in the warehouse of the Real Junk Food Project, which was founded three years ago to combat both food waste and hunger, was just two weeks past its expiration date.

Charitable and private efforts to combat food waste continue to bump up against idiotic and outrageous rules like these. I believe we can solve the problem of food waste, but only if lawmakers get out of the way.

Photo Credit: cc/Public Domain

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Libertarian||

    I have an almost emotional reaction to seeing food wasted, but it's really not rational. Unless you live in a society where food is scarce and people are going hungry, is wasting food worse than wasting anything else? I'd say that wasting $100 of [fill in the blank] is a greater loss than wasting $90 of food.

  • Sevo||

    Agreed. Similar to the concern regarding 'un-equal income'.
    Yes, incomes vary. So what?
    Yes, I look at that left-over serving of whatever and decide the trash is a better place for it than the fridge.
    So what?
    Even if there was a food shortage, it's not like I took it out of anyone else's mouth.

  • SomeGuy||

    I used to live on a cattle and pig farm and we were debating about trying to contract with local restaurant to collect their food waste and feed it to pigs.

    Problem is i am sure it would be against some sort of stupid law so we never bothered.

    I also worked for jewel as a kid and law/liability keeps jewel from donating old food. I have seen 2 full carts of bread thrown out just because it past sale by date. No mold or anything. Cold have been fed to cows or pigs or hungry people.

  • plusafdotcom||

    and the 'sell-by date' does NOT imply that the contents have SPOILED or are in ANY way 'unfit for human (or any other kind) consumption!

    THAT's part of the overwhelming stupidity of those laws!

    Dented cans... sure. Meat, fish, bread and virtually any other foodstuff a few days or weeks past "sell-by"?
    Insanity!

    Critical Thinking IS DEAD!

  • mtrueman||

    "is wasting food worse than wasting anything else?"

    Yes, it's more wasteful. Food, however old, can be composted where it enriches the soil. Non-food items like cell phones, plastic wrappers etc can not be composted. This holds whether or not your society suffers from a food scarcity.

  • Agammamon||

    Composted where? My backyard? I'm to have a pile of rotting vegetation sitting on my patio? Oh, I know - I'll mail it to you since its a big concern of yours. I'm willing to do the work to pack it up, you'll have to pay the postage though.

  • mtrueman||

    You're welcome to compost in my backyard if you wish. Otherwise dig a pit some distance from your house and your porch, and put your organic wastes there.

  • Agammamon||

    So, in one of my neighbor's yards? I guess this is one of the benefits of socialism?

  • mtrueman||

    I suggest you ask someone who has experience composting before you try it yourself.

  • Agammamon||

    That's why I'm mailing it to you. You know, if you're an 'expert' here you might be able to make some money with this.

  • mtrueman||

    Knowing that organic waste (as opposed to other wastes) can be composted to enrich soil doesn't make me an expert.

  • Agammamon||

    Piling garbage up in a corner of the backyard doesn't make compost either.

    And you should know that its not just 'organic' wastes - as you really don't want to add meat or cyanide to the pile.

  • mtrueman||

    Thanks for your advice.

  • SomeGuy||

    actually composting works by piling everything into a big pile so way to be a smartass and sound like a fool.

    https://tinyurl.com/y9pvyvhd

  • Agammamon||

    Yep. I'll just pile up my food waste in a corner of my 5 acre spread and let it rot and then I can use it to fertilize the orchard.

    http://www.cleanairgardening.c.....post-meat/

    You don't just pile it up - especially if you're trying to compost waste meat too.

  • SomeGuy||

    never stated meat did i?

  • SomeGuy||

    compost bins work much faster than leaving it out in a big pile and they contain a lot of the smell.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "I have an almost emotional reaction to seeing food wasted"

    I still have a hard time with that as well. I grew up poor, and my mom pinched every penny we had. I'm not sure at what age I find out milk didn't naturally come in powdered form.

  • Sevo||

    Or that you might get a Coke on something other than a holiday.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I would get a whole bottle of Pepsi if I would sit still while my dad gave me my buzz haircut.

  • SomeGuy||

    my grandma always gave me the starving Africans line as a kid so I have a huge issue with not eating every piece of my food.

    If my food doesnt go into somethings belly it annoys the shit out of me.

  • plusafdotcom||

    You haven't seen the cartoon about the Chinese parents telling their kid to clean his plate because "there are children starving in the United States"?

    Many cultures probably share that stupid meme.

    Some years ago, I saw a photo of a truckload-sized pile of oranges being readied for disposal because, as "slightly blemished," they weren't marketable in supermarkets but could not be legally donated to 'food for the hungry" organizations, either.

    Yay, Government! [not.]

  • SomeGuy||

    the other issue is government mandated production limits!!! Reason has posted stores of people being fined or jailed for not willing to destroy extra crops in order to not cause market price drops!

  • Paradigm||

    The wastage of food doesn't bother me as much as the fact that public sector unions are making a large portion of the public school lunches. From what I've heard, the LA school district alone wastes around 20,000 lunches a day. If that's even remotely accurate, there are way too many unionized hair net ladies.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Of course! Nobody (hardly) notices that the purpose of such unions is NOT 'to feed kids.'

  • SQRLSY One||

    Private givers of near-expired or expired foods should put them in "trash cans" accessible to consumers, with signs on the trash cans, "Do NOT take, do NOT eat! Donated (or sold) for use as compost only!" Put these trash cans on their private property, and put up a guard with a video recorder. All people entering, to pick up some free "compost", must SWEAR that they are NOT law enforcement piggly-wigglies. If donater gets busted? Trout out the video in court! "Hey, jury, does this witness have ANY credibility? Here is video of them LYING!"

  • Wizard4169||

    Nope, sorry, cops are totally allowed to lie about being cops. Despite what you might have seen in movies or TV, undercover cops are under no obligation to tell the truth about being a cop. Which makes sense, since otherwise undercover investigations would be effectively impossible. Granted, most undercover operations are total bullshit, targeting victimless crimes such as drug sales or consensual prostitution. Some, however, do target legitimate crimes with real victims, but victims who are often too intimidated to testify. I'm thinking primarily about mob investigations here.

  • Sevo||

    There are to be anti-Sharia law demonstrations today. I guess it's not surprising that there will be anti-anti-Sharia law demonstrations also by "interfaith groups"; note that no one is willing to day "pro-Sharia law" out loud.
    Well, just to get some real knowledge of Sharia law, a search seems worthwhile and as you might expect, you get various 'interpretations'.
    But the first one is real clear, saying bad things about the Quran or the prophet is punishable by death.
    http://www.billionbibles.org/s.....a-law.html
    Wiki says those things are prohibited, but somehow leaves out the part about getting killed as a result.
    Then we get this gem from Salon:
    "The Quran does not provide for the stoning of adulterers. The punishment prescribed in the Quran is lashing. However, there is a prophetic tradition that adopted the Jewish custom of stoning adulterers. Many people describe the American legal system as having a Judeo-Christian heritage. Does that mean that we will stone adulterers as required in the Bible? No."
    http://www.salon.com/2011/02/2.....eal_story/
    I guess Salon readers take that bit of legerdemain as logic; pathetic.
    Regardless, we now have "interfaith" groups supporting a code which demands death for speech.
    I'm on the other side.
    (out of links, just search Anti-Sharia Rally)

  • mtrueman||

    "Regardless, we now have "interfaith" groups supporting a code which demands death for speech."

    On the other hand, the enemy is pretty liberal when it comes to wasting food.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The U.S. Constitution​ is the law of the land. I don't know how people find the time to spend their Saturdays protesting non-existent threats. Maybe they just see it as a social event of like minded conspiracy theorist. I guess as long as they're having fun.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    "The U.S. Constitution​ is the law of the land."

    Is that sarcastic? I would think so but the remaining comment doesn't have the sarc feel.

    These people are marching because the Constitution is being methodically diluted/eroded.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I was speaking in regards to Sharia law. There is no plot to supplant the government with a Caliphate. You're correct that Constitution is being methodically diluted/eroded with all the wars on the American people (WOD, WOT, WOF, etc). If people were marching against actual constitutional violations then that would make total sense. But they don't seem to care about actual government treason.

  • AlmightyJB||

    It's weird how the lefts' fetish for hating America incites them to play apologist for Sharia law which would have gays, trans, and unwed mother's thrown off of rooftops. Half or more of the left's base basically. At some point you have to think that will come to a head.

  • mtrueman||

    "would have gays, trans, and unwed mother's thrown off of rooftops."

    And you think Sharia-supporting communists would have a problem with any of that?

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think they rely quite a bit on their useful idiots which are comprised by a great extent of those groups and at some point that could get interesting.

  • mtrueman||

    " at some point that could get interesting."

    No more interesting than your sister in a burka. (Muslim veil)

  • Domestic Dissident||

    It took much longer than it should have, but it looks like Americans are finally beginning to wake up to threat of these vicious, throat-cutting Islamonazis and are speaking out against them, a fact which has their leftard allies in the media very upset.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I had my throat cut three times last week. This has to stop.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    I'm glad people are doing something about this!

    Marching is doing something when it's our side, right?

  • AlmightyJB||

    If I actually believed Shiria law was about to supplant the US Constitution I'd be assassinating judges and congressmen, not marching. But I don't believe that.

  • Agammamon||

    . . . weighs in on the complicated issue of food waste.

    Except that its not actually a complicated issue at all.

    . . . has become a globally recognized problem

    What, exactly, is the problem? That food that was fit for consumption at the time of purchase goes uneaten? How is that a problem for anyone?

    . . . Food that goes to waste also can't be used to combat hunger."

    If there's anything we should know on this forum, its that just giving people food does not 'combat hunger'. Its the free-market that does that. If you were to somehow take all the 'wasted food' that exists each year and were able to get it to people who were hungry, you'd reduce hunger by a tiny percentage of the reduction that the increased wealth these people got through the free market in that same year did.

    This is just another made-up 'problem' looking for a solution. Or really, its just people looking for an avenue for more money and power over their fellows.

  • Agammamon||

    Americans waste nearly 40 percent of all food, or 133 billion pounds each year.

    Compared to how much we wasted in 1967? In 1917? I contend that without doing anything special at all we had already conquered this problem before anyone even noticed it.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    "Americans waste nearly 40 percent of all food, or 133 billion pounds each year."

    I'm going to play my "bullshit" chip here.

  • SomeGuy||

    This is a very likely accurate number if you give a little thought to it. This counts the entire food chain from generation to manufacturing to the table to the trash. A person may not waste 40% but the entire process from farm/factory to person/restaurant does.

    I used to work at grocery stores, lived on a pig and cattle farm and I can tell you 40% is a fairly reasonable number. If you do some research there are estimate break downs of waste at each level.

    Laws and liability are a major reason as i stated above and culture for such waste.

    Japan for an example no one in japan takes left overs home. When i was there i asked for a dogy bag for my burger at TGI fridays in Osaka and the waitress looked at me funny and my 2 Japanese friends laughed.

    The issue is different for each country but waste is very much an issue in regards to efficiency and being smart with resources.

  • SomeGuy||

    Is this a problem as in do people needlessly starve because of waste? Not exactly.

    There are tangible changes that could get more food to the poor safely but it isn't like the world can't produce enough food to feed everyone.

    It is more about just being efficient than people starving. A lot of resources are wasted needlessly and thats the major issue.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    America is the TOP exporter of food. As you said, there is waste in the process chain. Just because that process chain occurs in the USA doesn't mean the entire "food waste" should be attributed to "Americans".

    Based on your Japan example, I would conclude that Japanese are more wasteful as consumers.

  • SomeGuy||

    did i attribute it to american? How stupid would that be. Food waste is everywhere in every country...unless you grow your own and eat every piece......

  • plusafdotcom||

    Was it France or Italy that recently enacted a law REQUIRING supermarkets to donate past-date foods to distribution organizations or face huge fines?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    If you were to somehow take all the 'wasted food' that exists each year and were able to get it to people who were hungry, you'd reduce hunger by a tiny percentage of the reduction that the increased wealth these people got through the free market in that same year did.

    A million times this. But don't forget, it also releases a POTENT GREENHOUSE GAS!

  • SomeGuy||

    That is patently false. Food waste alone could feed the world but thats not the issue as i stated above.

  • ||

    Even if you could get it to them, government regulation would find a way to stop it. Think people who set up shop to feed the poor and homeless only to be stopped by officials under some bull shit law about germs or something.

  • SomeGuy||

    that is the real issue as restaurants and grocery stores are prohibited by law or by liability from giving away old food or unused. I understand partially eaten food but unused/old food is stupid.

    Even partially used food can be composted or fed directly to cattle and pigs. We used to get truck loads of food from fox river foods to feed pigs. Bread companies would send loafs of old bread to feed cows if homeless shelters couldnt use it.

  • Wizard4169||

    Read the article much? The author specifically points out that much of the waste is a result of government interference with the free market. I'm sure some of the people making noise about this are indeed eager to grab a little more power, but this story specifically recommends less government action, not more. Hell, even the headline says that what government really needs to do is "get out of the way".

  • Agammamon||

    And scientists have developed genetically modified apples that don't brown immediately after they're sliced, which makes them less likely to go to waste.

    A generation or two ago scientists developed genetically modified tomatoes that stayed ripe longer without over-ripening. And they were a big hit. Except that they were tasteless and tough. But most of us grew up with that being the only type of tomato available.

    Now I can go to Walmart and get a half-dozen different types. Sure, none of these have the longevity of the old tomatos, but they taste better. If I through a few out every month - well, that's not justification to call it a 'problem'.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yes, but those are devil tomatos according to people who supposedly love science.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yeah man,I agree, the anti-tech nature-worshippers should just go and suck wind...

    Dismissing the waste of food is harder for me to swallow, though. My proposal to say "suck my ass" to Government Almighty, is this: Sell the "expired" (but often totally safe to consume; just carve the rot, decay, fungus, off of the surface of the cheese, meat, or fruit, and go for it! Done it often enough myself; am here to tell the tale) food "for compost only". NOT for human or animal consumption! (What you do out of our sight and off of our premises, is between you and Government Almighty!).

    Problem solved!!!

    (Except for the remaining problem of Government Almighty and it's Endless Minions of Parasites, who Know Better that the Rest of Us).

    Years ago I used to buy expired chicken necks etc. from the grocery, to go fishing for blue crabs. Really and truly, actually. Does Government Almighty still ALLOW this?!?!?

  • AlmightyJB||

    The government is always the worst solution to almost every problem including this one.

  • Sevo||

    "The government is always the worst solution to almost every problem including this one."

    The government is the agent you accept for any task after you have searched the world for something better and found none.
    It is the absolute worst at doing anything, but if that thing must be done and every other agency cannot or will not do it, then and then only do you tolerate the government's incompetence.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Truth

  • JFree||

    I don't think government has much to do with American food waste. I think our cultural/market attitude towards food/eating has a lot more to do with it.

    We are picky consumers with narrow palates in a mass production food environment. That drives much of the waste on the processing/farm side. Also makes it more difficult for those processors to find a market (local or not) for their unwanted stuff. The notion that the American consumer is gonna be guilted into eating general waste is nonsense. The American consumer doesn't even eat goats or rabbits who might eat waste. We only eat grazers who have only been fed grain (which grazers don't eat outside a factory farm). 'Waste' is almost the very evidence that our system is working as intended.

    We view food/eating as a time tradeoff not as a social event. That means we shop in bulk as rarely as we can - we move quick/no prep food to the front (or grab a meal out) for meals even when we bought 'healthy' stuff that needs prep when we shopped - and when we do cook we cook for fewer which doesn't fit bulk buying at all. And bluntly it is because we rely on home storage of bulk bought food that we end up reliant on someone else to tell us how the food we buy properly fits into the storage we have.

  • Sevo||

    WIH was the point of THAT word salad?

  • Robert||

    He's saying the pattern is a spontaneous order resulting from values trade-offs.

    I moved here last year, out in the country though unable to afford a car, because dwelling rent was cheaper than the city. So I've been relying on grocery deliveries, Internet-ordered. Refrigerator & freezer space is limited, plus I prefer meat that hasn't been frozen. The minimum order rules, plus accounting for the fixed cost of each delivery, encourages large & infrequent orders, even of perishables. I could save $ with dried or salted foods, but would suffer health- & taste-wise. (BTW, last time I ordered, fluid milk was a better deal than powdered, for the amount I wanted.) Paradoxically, this sometimes involves ordering less of certain items to try to have justif'n for the next minimum order.

  • JFree||

    Thank you. Exactly.

    Even in the city, Costco and WalMart take share from supermarkets - and supermarkets are mostly weekly shoppers.

    When I lived in Europe/Asia, shopping every day or two - cooked immediately - was more the norm. Changes the entire food chain/system - including waste.

  • Robert||

    When I lived in the Bronx, I shopped for food every 2 or 3 days, whether walking or driving to the store. When walking, I was limited by how much I could carry.

  • SomeGuy||

    waste at the consumer level isn't the major issue. It is middle level of the food supply chain that is where tangible preventable waste exists.

  • SomeGuy||

    let me elaborate. The middle level is where meaningful change can happen. There is a lot of waste at consumer level but there is no real economical way of improving that besides composting but that's a personal responsibility issue.

    Middle level is where laws and liability can easily be removed to allow economical change to improve efficiency in the food delivery system.

    Government is definitely not the solution to this "problem".

    Think of this issue similar to energy waste of lighting being left on needlessly. Internet of things and sensors is the solution to save energy. My dad works for a company that makes the modules for lighting so they can be controlled by sensors or a central system.

    This issue is similar in that regard that only thing that needs to be done is to increase efficiency. It isn't going to feed the world but it will make us more efficient.

    Plus feeding the world is a personal problem not a government problem. If everyone donated a few bucks a day hunger would end. It isn't a crisis lol

  • JFree||

    I agree that govt is not a solution. Nor is 'deregulation'. As long as we shop the way we do (infrequently with lists to save time and not much actual price shopping to try something new), the waste in the system is pretty unchangeable. Just one anecdotal re the 'sell-by' stuff. US shoppers are infrequent focused bulk-buy shoppers. Europeans are high frequency one-bag 'browser' buyers. A retailer here has a difficult time matching sell-by product with infrequent shoppers by the time expiration hits. A Euro retailer just needs to place that stuff elsewhere (with other sale stuff) and reprice and it is sold within hours - before expiration. No surprise - retail food waste there is about 10% of what it is here (with roughly comparable market size/population overall).

    And the comparative data on waste as it goes through the food chain makes a lot of sense when you understand how the market structure itself is different:

    US food chain waste - http://on.nrdc.org/1NVyyzW
    EU food chain waste - http://bit.ly/2e1ktEs

    The implicit notion of this article - that there is gummintal oppression of those here in the US who want to eat someone else's waste and gummintal oppression of those who would supply garbage to meet that demand - is honestly a bit laughable.

  • SomeGuy||

    there are serious regulation and liability laws that prevent many companies from not wasting food or preventing people from gathering said waste and using it.

    I stated examples above about restaurants and grocery stores.

  • JFree||

    re supermarkets - and the example the author cites about England. selling food post-expiration.

    NOTHING prevents a free market from working here. Supermarkets are free to reduce the price of stuff themselves BEFORE it expires in order to clear it. There are no food cops going to homes to clear refrigerators of expired food. That is up to the consumer.

    Supermarkets choose not to reduce prices themselves even though they know that they overorder. They deliberately overorder for marketing reasons - to give the appearance of plenty to infrequent bulk-buying customers. They deliberately keep prices constant - mark them once only - because they don't WANT actual price-discovery to occur except on their terms and their internal processes for how to deal with variable prices are weak (unlike a kid running a lemonade stand who can quickly figure out how to get rid of extra lemonade at the end of the day). This isn't rocket science.

    The purpose of eliminating legal liability about expiration date is to tilt the playing field against buyer and in favor of sellers. To bail out the supermarkets/sellers from their own dumb decisions re ordering and pricing by eliminating the protections (and any standing in court) that consumers would have about whether food is actually safe or not. The regulations in question are nothing more than 'weights and measures' stuff - that an expiration date is not just a made-up thing that can't be adjudicated.

  • SomeGuy||

    again if you read my posts above you would see thats not what i was referring to.

    I used to work in this industry and have first hand knowledge.

    Grocery stores wont even donate to homeless shelters or farmers willing to feed it to cattle because of liability and regulations.

    I have tried to acquire this wasted food and that is the reason managers will not release the food they throw in their massive trash compacting dumpster.

    Also reducing prices before they expire is usually a waste of time. The labor it requires, the changing in the system, or entering 1 item at a time with special prices.

    There is also the fact that many shoppers would stop buying until things just expire. If you worked in the industry you would know this. Consumers have no problem waiting for things to get old and snatch them off at half off.

    This is a major reason why US stores dont do that because it would overall hurt profit margins.

  • SomeGuy||

    again there is no reason people can't take personal responsibility here. You want free milk that is 1 day past sale date? It is your own fault if you get sick. Don't take 1 day old milk for free than.

  • Eman||

    Come on, its obviously better for everybody if food spends some time in in a garbage can before hobos can get at it. They might start getting uppity otherwise.

  • Robert||

    The supermarket owner doesn't want a large fraction of their customers to easily game them by figuring out when markdowns are going to occur.

    I shop Rite Aids for candy clearances post-Halloween & post-Easter, but those are annual affairs for items that are stocked annually in stores that mostly sell other goods. The closest thing supermarkets might have to that are clearances of matzoh, etc. post-Passover; Thanksgiving turkeys the have down to a science. Overwhelmingly supermarkets stock the same stuff at short intervals asynchronously with other groceries, and if you didn't have a strong preference for freshness (which you might for bread, say), then if you could easily determine the schedule, you could wait them out on perishables like meat. And they'd try to wait you out too, to the inconvenience of all. So yeah, they deliberately avoid markdown-by-algorithm.

  • JFree||

    The supermarket owner doesn't want a large fraction of their customers to easily game them by figuring out when markdowns are going to occur.

    I understand. But it is hardly a free market notion to assert that govt should enable what the free market could do but chooses not to do - esp where that enabling primarily affects only one side of the market (sellers will be able to ignore sell-by/expiration stuff altogether and actual food consumers benefit how?). Worse when that is justified solely on the basis of vague 'good intentions'. This 'problem' is self-inflicted not govt-created.

    if you didn't have a strong preference for freshness (which you might for bread, say)

    Well I'd say that freshness preference also extends to produce (prob the biggest 'waste' item), fish (prob the 2nd biggest), meat - basically everything 'around the edges'. But as long as stores force you to spend excess time even if all you want is 'food for tonight and breakfast' (or confuse everything by being 'takeout' of already-prepared food - another big waste item), then they self-eliminate 'frequent shoppers' in favor of 'plan-meals-ahead bulk-buyer' or 'eat at restaurants mostly' shoppers.

    easily determine the schedule..you could wait them out

    And that gets back to the self-inflicted overordering. The pre-planner bulk-buyers who they encourage - are both self-interested and planning-oriented. Color me not shocked at all.

  • rxc||

    Well, clearly you would prefer that we have much better planning regarding food supplies and consumption, and less wasteful choices available to the consumer. If the consumer were not allowed to be so picky, we could reduce food waste quite quickly. Have some of the "top people" set up menus for everyone, with alternatives for vegetarians and vegans and even for religious needs, and then have everyone eat from the menu, at the established rate and time. If you don't eat what is allocated, then you don't get the next meal. You won't be able to eat too much becuase you will only be given the amount you really NEED. No need for dieting, binge eaters disappear, and everything is fair and equal.

    Simple without being harsh. Food will be planted, harvested, preserved (if necessary), "just in-time" to be consumed, and waste will be minimized, if not completely eliminated.

    Paradise regained. (/sarc)

  • SomeGuy||

    god damnit thing glitched....well i was replying and stating there is real food waste that can't be solved by people without removing laws and liability. it has to do with restaurants and grocery stores. I exampled above in several posts.

  • Crusty Juggler - lamertarian||

    OT: D.C. Spending $20,000 to Paint LGBTQ Murals on Storm Drains

    "The goal of these murals is to both raise awareness of storm drains as a connection to our local waterways and promote the neighborhood's LGBTQ identity," the Anacostia Watershed Society said. Aside from the $775 commission, artists will also receive painting materials.

    Awareness of storm drains, people. Aware of storm drains.

  • Longtobefree||

    And I thought it was to say the LGBTQ group should be washed down the drain.

  • SomeGuy||

    I really wish the Constitution did not say government can spend money on arts :/ Such a fucking waste.

  • Crusty Juggler - lamertarian||

    Rick Moranis' Spaceballs helmet is up for auction

    The massive plastic helmet—which, according to a 2015 interview with the ever-charming Moranis, was actually pretty light—is currently going for $12,000, with several weeks left to drive bidding up.

    Fun fact: evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

  • Robert||

    But does it triumph at ludicrous speed?

  • Crusty Juggler - lamertarian||

    Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly into the Night?

    Negotiating a different landscape requires the Democratic Party to return to some basic questions. Times have changed. America is no longer a lone hyperpower triumphing amid squabbles about same-sex marriage. We're an overstretched empire fighting about fundamental questions of economy and national identity. The Clintons see that, sort of, but they're stuck in time. Worse, their network, which is vast and powerful and heavily dependent on them, is stuck in time, too. Precisely when those on the left ought to be negotiating today's fault lines and creating new coalitions, Democrats are getting dragged back into last year's fights and letting personal loyalties drown out thoughts about core principles. The indefatigability of the Clintons isn't just a nuisance but a hindrance.

    In summation, the author is a sexist.

  • Sevo||

    "Democrats are getting dragged back into last year's fights and letting personal loyalties drown out thoughts about core principles."

    As if they could do otherwise:
    http://www.miamiherald.com/opi.....80204.html

  • ||

    Worse! A 404 sexist!

  • Bra Ket||

    "The indefatigability of the Clintons isn't just a nuisance but a hindrance."

    The Clintons exist solely to leverage Bill's one-time political hot streak to personal benefit. So they'll never stop trying to come back. The party looked past her to the future ten years ago, but she came back anyway and got within inches of the throne. Why would she give up now?

  • Eman||

    I think its rose wilder lane who points out that we either have too much food or too little food, and too much food is a vastly preferable situation. We just have to see some amount of waste as part of the cost of having enough food.

  • jennyhannb||

    But the impact of food waste isn't merely economic. hotmail outlook

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online